Many women get overwhelmed when thinking about the adoption process and how to give their baby up for adoption. There seems to be so much to think about and consider. Here is a simple five step guide, with links to more information, that will help you understand the adoption process.
As you skim this information, remember that the adoption process is free to pregnant women; adoptive parents will cover your medical expenses; and you can plan for an adoption at any time during your pregnancy or even after your baby is born.
This first step, in my opinion, is the most important. There are many ways to find a family to adopt your baby. For instance, you might find an adoptive family online, or through a family member or friend. Services like mine, can also help you find amazing adoptive families. Families that I have met with personally , who are background checked and fingerprinted. They are educated about the adoption process and, most importantly, they are who I would feel comfortable placing my baby with. (Read more about finding an adoptive family )
The next step is to consider whether you want an open adoption or a closed adoption. Most adoptive parents are ready to do whatever type of adoption the birth mother is comfortable with. Choosing an adoptive family who is flexible will give you more time, especially when you aren’t completely sure, allowing you to weigh the pros and cons of open adoption and closed adoption and decide the best option for you and your baby!. You don’t have to decide now if you want an open adoption or a closed adoption, but you can start planning for it at any time. (Read more about open adoption vs closed adoption here)
Once you have chosen an adoptive family, you will complete pre-adoption paperwork. This paperwork is straightforward and easy to complete. You will provide information about yourself, your personal history, medical history, and why you are choosing to put your baby up for adoption. You will also need to provide any information you have about the baby’s father and whether either of you has Native American Indian heritage. It’s important to remember that pre-adoption paperwork is NOT legally binding. This means that even if you fill out paperwork before your baby is born, you are not obligated to give your baby up for adoption.
It’s okay if you don’t know the answers to some of the questions asked in the pre-adoption paperwork. You are always welcome to leave answers blank, if necessary and many times, you can answer these questions at a later date. What’s most important is that you do not lie in this paperwork. Adoptive families and adoption professionals are relying on the information given to complete your adoption. If the information you provide is not true, it puts the adoption of your baby at risk. This is especially true when terminating the baby’s father’s rights (Read more about birth father rights here). If being truthful is difficult, it’s better to leave answers blank and say that you don’t want to provide this information. Sometimes, an adoption can move forward without it. If not, the adoption professional working on your adoption will let you know whether it’s required or not. At that time, you can decide if you want to provide the information.
Women who are further along in their pregnancy may not have time for this fourth step. However, even if your baby is due today, we can still make an adoption plan. It’s always a good idea, if you have time, to plan for labor and delivery in your adoption plan. Much like a Birth Plan, this would list in detail many aspects of the delivery and post delivery such as who can be present in the delivery room, whether you want to see and hold the baby, and who will name the baby. (Read more about hospital planning)
Frequently, the hospital will provide the adoptive parents with their own room to spend time along with the baby, if you wish. (Read more about choosing adoptive parents who live out of state) It is typical that the hospital will discharge the baby to the adoptive parents you have chosen. If you aren’t certain about putting your baby up for adoption, you can take your baby home and decide later whether you want to place the baby up for adoption.
Hospital planning can also include whether you want to be registered anonymously at the hospital. When you choose this option, when someone contacts the hospital by phone or in person looking for you as a patient, the hospital must respond that they don’t have a patient by that name. Women who choose this option usually do so to protect their privacy or for their safety in a domestic violence situation.
If you’ve had prenatal care, you can usually leave the hospital as soon as you are feeling ready. However, if you haven’t had prenatal care, the hospital will usually want to keep you and your baby for at least 48 hours to make sure everyone is healthy and the risk of complications have passed. If you haven’t had prenatal care, the hospital will almost certainly run a toxicology test for drug use on you and your baby. It can take several hours to get the results of these test, and hospitals will want to keep you and your baby to ensure that neither of you is suffering from withdrawal symptoms (Read more about drug use during pregnancy)
The final step of the adoption process does not happen until after your baby is born. Depending on which state you live in, the legal paperwork for this step is called a Consent or a Relinquishment. The name may be different but the legal result is still the same. When you sign this paperwork, you are agreeing to terminate your parental rights and to allow the adoptive parents to adopt the baby. Adoption laws vary from state to state, but one thing is always true: you cannot sign a Consent or Relinquishment until after your baby is born.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to put your baby up for adoption because you made an adoption plan. You are NOT obligated to proceed with an adoption if you did an adoption plan. This even includes if your baby was discharged to the adoptive family. Every state has laws about when you can sign the legal paperwork, a consent or relinquishment, for adoption of your baby and how much time you have to change your mind about going through with the adoption.
Each state has adoption laws that explain how much time must past after a baby is born before a birth mother can sign a consent or relinquishment. (Read more about choosing adoptive parents who live out of state.) Once that time has passed, you can sign a consent or relinquishment any time you feel ready to do so. Don’t sign this document until you feel you are ready to give your baby up for adoption. You can wait until you are home and have gotten some rest, even if baby has been discharged to the adoptive parents. Don’t let anyone pressure you to do anything you aren’t ready to do.
When you are ready to sign a consent or relinquishment, ask the person witnessing your signature how much time you have to change your mind and withdraw or revoke your consent or relinquishment. Every state has adoption laws that explain when you’re the consent or relinquishment is binding on a birth mother, meaning you can’t take it back. In some states, a birth mother has zero time to change her mind; in other words, it’s binding on you when you sign it. In other states, you might have 24 hours, or 96 hours to change your mind.
If your state gives you more time than you want, like California which gives you 30 days to revoke your consent, you might be able to waive that 30-day period if you want your consent to be binding on you, meaning you can’t change your mind, sooner.
Although the language of adoption changes from time to time, these are the simple five steps on how to put your baby up for adoption (Read more about the changing language of adoption). Working with an experienced adoption professional can make the entire adoption process easier on you. Not only am I an adoption attorney, but I am also a birth mother, and I have been where you are (read my story here). Please be reassured that I am here for you! You can reach out to me directly. Text, email or call anytime if you have questions or just need someone to listen. I’m happy to answer any and all of your questions about the adoption process. I can also help you get started making an adoption plan if you wish.
NOTE: This is the basic order of steps in the adoption process. If you have questions about this information or about your specific situation, I’m happy to help. I placed my son for adoption several years ago and I’m an adoption attorney. I know the process inside and out from both perspectives. Feel free to reach out to me directly using the contact options below. I look forward to hearing from you soon!